If you’re here because you think you may have been sexually assaulted, there are some things you should know.
First of all, it’s not your fault.
We repeat—it is not your fault.
It doesn’t matter what you said, what you did, where you were, who you were with, or what you were wearing. It doesn’t matter if you were drinking, using drugs, or flirting. No one asks to be sexually assaulted. Ever.
Someone made the choice to hurt you. That’s on them, no matter what anyone says.
We are so sorry that happened to you. You did not deserve to be treated that way!
Secondly, you may be unsure of whether or not the situation “counts” as a sexual assault. If you think it was an assault, it probably was.
In a nutshell, sexual assault is any kind of sexual touching that happens without your consent. Consent means that everyone involved is saying YES. It means you have given your permission clearly, fully, and because you wanted to. Sex should always feel safe and respectful, never uncomfortable, coerced, scary, or icky. It should be enjoyable for everyone involved and you should always feel like you have a choice.
Sometimes people in abusive relationships say yes in an effort to appease their partners and keep themselves safe from abuse later. If you feel like you don’t have a choice because the other person might hurt you or use their power against you, it’s not really consensual. Coercion and consent can’t coexist.
Consensual sex requires ongoing communication. If you’re not into it and you ask your partner stop, they should stop immediately. If they don’t, it’s no longer consensual. You’re allowed to change your mind and revoke consent at any time.
You have to be fully aware to give consent too. You obviously can’t give consent if you’re sleeping, unconscious, or too drunk or high to know what’s going on. Underage people are legally unable to consent as well, even if they say yes. We have laws to protect youth and people with certain cognitive disabilities from predators.
Finally, we want you to know that you’re not alone.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone and, unfortunately, it happens a lot. 1 in 6 women have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Meanwhile, 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused or assaulted at some point, either as a child or an adult. Check out www.1in6.org for additional information and online chat support specifically for men. We also know that trans and gender-nonconforming people are at increased risk for violence and abuse. If you are a transgender or gender non-conforming survivor, visit www.forge-forward.org for resources, referrals, and peer support.
If you a survivor of sexual assault, regardless of your gender or background, know that there is an entire movement standing behind you.
We are part of that movement.
We are here to listen and believe you.
We are here to support you in your next steps and throughout your healing process.
We are here to advise you of your rights and talk through your options.
We can stand beside you at the hospital or in court, if those are options you choose to pursue.
We will never judge you or assume we know what’s best for you.
We’re here to help.
If you would like to speak with a trained Hope Crisis Center Advocate, please call us at 1-877-388-HOPE (4673).
Is past trauma affecting your life today?
We believe you.